Safe And Sound: Keep Your Peace Of Mind While You Travel With DOT-Approved Hotels And Travel Agencies
It’s tempting to book a room at that quaint bed and breakfast, but should you really? What about that budget-friendly tour package that seems too good to be true? Should you go for it? Here are some reasons why it’s still best to book with DOT-accredited accommodations and tour operators
Traveling, whether locally or internationally, has never been as accessible as it is now. Unlike a decade or two ago, anyone can easily buy a plane ticket, find a place to stay, and escape the demands of daily life even for just a few days. The rise of budget airlines, along with new travel options such as AirBnbs, couchsurfing, and homeswapping, has made tourism thrive in so many different ways.
It may seem effortless enough to buy a plane or bus ticket, but finding the right place to stay isn’t quite as simple. The internet is teeming with websites that offer various kinds of accommodations, from homestays to inns to luxury boutique hotels, that it becomes so tempting to pick the one that catches one’s fancy—or fits the budget.
This is where it gets tricky though, as not all hotels or resorts may be up to that standards that it purports to have. While it is up to the consumer to do due diligence in terms of confirming whether or not the establishment they have booked at is reputable, not everyone has the time, patience or understanding to determine if they have found a place to stay or a tour package that will give them value for money.
Thankfully, one sure way to confirm if a local hotel, inn, or resort is up to par with national and even global standards is to check if they are accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT). The DOT issues a certification to “tourism enterprises that have complied with the minimum and progressive levels of operating quality and internationally recognized standards for the operation and maintenance of their tourism facilities and services.” The said accreditation is indicated in Republic Act 9593 or the “Tourism Act of 2009.”
The purpose of this is to professionalize and standardize the quality of services offered by tourism establishments that offer accommodations, ticketing, packaged tours, and transport services among others. The accreditation helps the DOT monitor each travel and tourism establishment in complying with the standards set for the industry. At the same time, this protects the consumers from unreliable or even fly-by-night operations and poor service.
Take note that accreditation doesn’t just cover accommodations provided by hotels, inns, resorts, pension houses, etc., but also includes car or van rentals, tour arrangements, and airline ticketing. This mandate by DOT is a response to reports regarding the proliferation of dubious travel agencies in social media sites.
Here are a few tips to remember when buying an airline ticket, booking a tour package, or making hotel reservations:
Pay attention to the advertisement.
Check for a valid office address, a working phone number, a credible email address, and perhaps, even a website. If the address seems to be in a shady location, be wary. A reputable tour company should hold office in a good location, as well as easy to contact for any inquiries.
Visit their website.
An informative website is a sign of having good business operations, while a website that’s almost “empty” may not bode well. Make sure that the website provides ample information, and if you have questions that you can’t find answers to from the website, check for a phone number or email address that you can contact.
Transact business only with DOT-accredited establishments.
A DOT-accredited establishment will have the DOT Quality Seal, an Accreditation Number, and a business permit. Be mindful, as an establishment without accreditation cannot get a business permit. Check if the accreditation is still valid though to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable business. You may visit the DOT website to check the list of DOT-accredited establishments.
A vacation shouldn't be stressful, especially when there are ways to protect the traveling consumer. Just keep these tips in mind, and rest easy that your holiday will be an enjoyable one.
Photo by Cris Tagupa and Jane Palash on Unsplash.